Join 3,375 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Imagine a troubled gay teenager contemplating suicide...and getting James Dobson on the other end.
July 28, 2006 9:24 PM   Subscribe

1-800-SUICIDE loses govt. funding: Despite the fact that almost 2 million callers have reached help and hope over the last 8 years, and a government funded evaluation stating the benefits of 1-800-SUICIDE, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), a division of Health & Human Services, has decided to create their own government run system where they would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis. (SAMHSA has already scrubbed their websites of any and all LGBT information, and gay youth are 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide.) Save 1-800-SUICIDE website here.
posted by amberglow (68 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm a bit confused. On the save 1-800-SUICIDE web site, they first tell us to help them keep the line out of the hands of the federal government. Then they tell us to tell the government to give them the money they allocated to them. Finally they say that without that money they are in debt and have to shut down. Are they not, then, already in the hands of the federal government?

Secondly, neither link directs me to any government release on the subject, and both are a bit unclear as to what the problem is, i.e. what exactly the government is doing. They say that we should tell the federal government not to duplicate efforts, but then essentially say that they'll go out of business, in effect making it so that no efforts are duplicated.

Then there are amorphous privacy and Bush Administration arguments brought up which are not explained at all, with no links to source material.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:35 PM on July 28, 2006


"hello? suicide hotline?"

"you really shouldn't be in such a hurry to do this ... i've got two more years in office and by that time, i promise i'll have found a quick and painless way to do away with everybody in a way that will all make us feel like patriotic americans as we go up in puffs of nuclear smoke ... be patient ... my name is george w bush and i approve of this message"
posted by pyramid termite at 9:44 PM on July 28, 2006


from SAMHSA: A: 1-800-SUICIDE was a Federal grant program funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the standard 3-year period. At the end of that period, the grant to fund the hotline was bid on and won by a new organization. Anticipating that 1-800-SUICIDE would not be available as the number for the national suicide prevention hotline network, SAMHSA developed a new name (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) and number (1-800-273-TALK) that would be available to the national network. Rights to this name and number are controlled by SAMHSA on behalf of the American people.
posted by amberglow at 9:50 PM on July 28, 2006


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) last month launched the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK. The national hotline is part of the National Suicide Prevention Initiative (NSPI)-a collaborative effort led by SAMHSA that incorporates the best practices and research findings in suicide prevention and intervention with the goal of reducing the incidence of suicide nationwide. In addition to the national hotline, a new Web site is being launched at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
posted by amberglow at 9:53 PM on July 28, 2006


It seems like... 1-800-Suicide has a bunch of debt, and without help the government will seize control? Also something is going on where funding has been allocated, but the administration is fiddling with actually giving out the money in order to pressure the hotline to toe their anti-gay agenda.

I'm not sure if this is accurate, but I *think* that's what they're saying. Could someone who's running on more than two hours of sleep clarify?
posted by ®@ at 9:54 PM on July 28, 2006


and i think the data part is related to one or more of these lists and programs here -- Suicide Prevention Basics--Data
posted by amberglow at 9:59 PM on July 28, 2006


There's still some information missing. We've got statements from 1-800-SUICIDE and SAMSHA which don't match up. 1-800-SUICIDE says the funds have been withheld on their initial successful grant application, SAMSHA says they merely lost the bid on another 3 year grant. Something is missing between those two statements.

According to amberglows follow up link, a new system has been set up in anticipation of 1-800-SUICIDE no longer being around, and none of the participants nor the funding circumstances seem to mesh with the statements in the first link of the first post.

In fact, I would say the new coalition seems pretty good.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:08 PM on July 28, 2006


Are they not, then, already in the hands of the federal government?

There is logic in your comment, but I think the point is for the Federal govt. to fund them as a public utility like roads and hospitals, and not to allow their funding to be contigent upon the political climate. There's a difference between saying "take the government out the the picture" and "take the politics out of the picture."
posted by scarabic at 10:16 PM on July 28, 2006


Uh, well the technical aspects aren't really that important. I don't think anyone is claiming that the government doesn't have the legal right to withhold the money. The point is that funding is being taken away from an organization based on their support for "the gay agenda", and replace it with one that doesn't recognize homosexuality.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on July 28, 2006


this org, EDC, was given $2.5 million in 05 for a Suicide Prevention Resource Center by SAMHSA, and millions from HHS too. --this is the results page for "suicide" there (it doesn't look like they're running the hotline tho). Searching for gay and suicide brings up no results there, altho they have pages and pages of suicide information for providers and other people.
posted by amberglow at 10:18 PM on July 28, 2006


Unfortunately, scarabic, I don't see anything yet which gives a clear picture of what's going on with their funding, let alone any political motivations behind it.

Additionally, just having looked over the SAMSHA site, there appear to be plenty of references to LGBT information there.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:19 PM on July 28, 2006


Despite the ZOMG framing I too think the new network is probably a good idea and is run by reputable institutions -- not James Dobson. The 1-800-SUICIDE guys may have a great service, and the government may well owe them budgeted monies, but they've lost the contract and have to reconfigure or close.
posted by dhartung at 10:20 PM on July 28, 2006


The confusion in the various descriptions of what is going on here makes my head hurt. The short version, as far as I can tell: Congress gave $3 million dollars to SAMHSA to "support and evaluate a national hotline network of suicide crisis lines and to train and certify crisis line workers." SAMHSA, in turn, hired the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) to be the Prime Contractor. AAS, in turn, manages the grant process for allocating the money to suicide crisis lines, and awards one of the grants to National Hopeline Network/1-800-SUICIDE. Hopeline thereafter incurred $266,000 worth of expenses it calls "grant related," but AAS apparently disagrees that the expenses were grant related. AAS declines to reimburse Hopeline for the expenses, and now Hopeline is in hot water. Hopeline filed a claim for the expenses with SAMHSA, but the claim appears to be stalled in the agency. Perhaps as a result of the conflict, it appears that the grant that was originally awarded to Hopeline was awarded to another entity upon its expiration. The national hotline is now be handled through a consortium of what appears to be highly qualified organizations.

A few thoughts: (1) Hopeline doesn't say what the $266,000 worth of expenses were for, and doesn't explain why AAS or SAMHSA disputed the expenses. (2) The homosexuality angle seems to be completely unrelated to funding for Hopeline. There's no indication anywhere that reimbursement for expenses was denied to Hopeline for counseling gay teens. The Dobson reference noted in the first link and reproduced in the title here seems a little silly.

The point is that funding is being taken away from an organization based on their support for "the gay agenda", and replace it with one that doesn't recognize homosexuality.

This statement seems completely unfounded.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:21 PM on July 28, 2006


This statement seems completely unfounded.

Apperantly. I guess Hopeline is trying to wrap itself in a rainbow flag in order to fight getting shut down. Or perhaps I should just shut up :P
posted by delmoi at 10:27 PM on July 28, 2006


The government is now spending $2.2 million to essentially redo the 1-800-SUICIDE infrastructure set up by Butler and the National Hopeline Network. "It's not even just a waste of money -- they're actually competing with us!" Butler says, appalled. "They're hurting an existing, successful effort, and for what?"--from Alternet

Why would this administration (which wants to privatize everything) ignore an already-established and accredited, nationally networked suicide prevention hotline and set up their own version of it? There are no grants for Hopeline or 1-800-Suicide listed on SAMHSA for 04 or 05 that i could see.

And if you search the AAS site, there are no results for either Hopeline nor 1-800-Suicide.
posted by amberglow at 10:48 PM on July 28, 2006


Captain, none of those results at SAMHSA are for suicide prevention.
posted by amberglow at 10:55 PM on July 28, 2006


Maybe the federal gov't equates "suicidal teen" with "suicide bomber" and therefore this is an anti-terrorism measure.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:04 PM on July 28, 2006


I guess Hopeline is trying to wrap itself in a rainbow flag in order to fight getting shut down.

I wouldn't be surprised. Nor would I ever expect to be able to "prove" that a funding grant or denial thereof was or wasn't politically motivated.
posted by scarabic at 11:11 PM on July 28, 2006


Obviously, it's time to privatize this service.

As long as this administration is around, as a shareholder, I can make mad bank from fatalistic despair.
posted by sourwookie at 11:59 PM on July 28, 2006


Respect fools get, disrespect I get.
posted by thanatogenous at 12:04 AM on July 29, 2006



Obviously, it's time to privatize this service.


"Help me... I want to die..."

"Will you please tell me your nine digit credit card number?"

"Hurts so bad inside.."

"I see... Do you happen to have purchased one of our pre-paid gift cards? Maybe your ex-girlfriend bought you one before she left with that big hunk of a guy who she'll be forever happy with?"

"It's just not worth it.."
posted by Balisong at 12:08 AM on July 29, 2006


Why would this administration (which wants to privatize everything) ignore an already-established and accredited, nationally networked suicide prevention hotline and set up their own version of it?

Amberglow, they didn't. That's the claim made by 1-800-SUICIDE, but I can't see how it's substantiated. The new network is managed by MHA of NYC, a non-profit agency, who partnered with such non-governmental entities as Rutgers University. There's no "ownership" of the network that I can see. Here's a PDF from MHA explaining its launch.

According to a 2004 conference call before the contract was "re-competed", one part of the initiative was to make sure that mental health agencies around the country would not have to "re-brand" as the contract ran out and a new agency took over. To that extent, the phone number and name are apparently considered government property. Looks like they may have wanted to acquire 1-800-SUICIDE at the end of the contract but that wasn't happening.

In fact there are two years' worth of conference calls right on the website showing stakeholder concerns and how they were addressed. This isn't any kind of blind-siding, this was a many-year process where the contractor had every opportunity to address concerns and bid for the contract.

I have to call this one a faux controversy.
posted by dhartung at 1:25 AM on July 29, 2006


I called 1-800-SUICIDE trying to find out what common household materials would be least painfully fatal when swallowed, but the people were remarkably unhelpful. Thumbs down.
posted by Justinian at 3:03 AM on July 29, 2006


justinian, have you tried asking on ask.me?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:25 AM on July 29, 2006


government run system where they [the government] would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis

Does anybody else find this idea rather scary?
posted by davy at 5:31 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Does anybody else find this idea rather scary?"

Heh. Maybe the gov't would finally be able to most expediently enforce that law saying suicide is attempted murder and throw anyone who considers it in jail. While a trained expert pretends to help someone who calls, just trace the call, and send SWAT after the perp before they off themselves. If the gov't could approach it that way, there'd be no need for a suicide hotline, beyond the trappings allowing people to turn themselves in.

Scary? We ain't seen scary yet. Another four years of neo-cons running everything? We'll see scary.

Personally I never understood the idea of a suicide hotline. I know when I faced that darkness many years ago, the last thing I contemplated was calling a suicide hotline. It's like expecting a drowning man to stop what he's doing and call for a lifeguard. You're a little too busy drowning at the time to bother with a seven digit number.

If that number isn't 1-800-SUICIDE, you'd be even less likely to call it. I had to scroll back up to copypaste "1-800-273-TALK." It doesn't exactly stick in the mind like "411" or "911" or "1-800-FLOWERS"
posted by ZachsMind at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2006


Actually, in 2003, the suicide hotline (local version) called me. You see what happens when you get your name on a list.
posted by eegphalanges at 7:14 AM on July 29, 2006


Just to second Justinian, when I see a number like 1-800-SUICIDE, I would expect them to walk me through the process when I called them.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:47 AM on July 29, 2006


Zachsmind wrote: "Personally I never understood the idea of a suicide hotline. I know when I faced that darkness many years ago, the last thing I contemplated was calling a suicide hotline."

If I'm not mistaken, part of the point of 1-800-SUICIDE is so that people can call when they're having suicidal ideation and get pointed at the right services, and another aspect is so that people who know someone who they think might be suicidal can call and find out how to help the person who can't help themselves.

I see a lot of value in both aspects -- people differ, and although there are those people who would never consider calling a suicide hotline if they, themselves, are suicidal, there are also those who feel that if only they knew how, they might be able to hang on a while longer.

I'm not sure exactly what's going on with 1-800-SUICIDE, either, but I do know that mental health care & services in this country are sadly lacking, for any number of reasons, and that if Reese Butler & the people at the National Hopeline Network have solid experience in helping people, I'd like to see them continue to be able to do so, with as little political interference as possible.
posted by dryad at 8:18 AM on July 29, 2006


I wish I could quit you, 1-800-SUICIDE.
posted by Il Furioso at 8:28 AM on July 29, 2006


I was going to post "George Bush doesn't care about dead people" but it's actually that he doesn't care about live ones.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:31 AM on July 29, 2006


No one seems to be suggesting that the government is trying to deliberately off homosexuals. So I will.


This administration wants gay people to die, and rather than start their own concentration camps (which are only just in the planning stages) the only way to do it with their hands clean is to let the little sodomizers off themselves. Also their plan is to put sodomy-inducing drugs into the water supply of LA, Washington State, New York, and Boston in an effort to convert as many people as possible.

Look, I hate this admin, but even I can't imagine that there was a meeting about this where people high enough to criticize were involved. Seems like just another bureaucratic moment that could have easily ended with a thumbs up.
posted by hoborg at 8:53 AM on July 29, 2006


dhartung addressed this very well.

amberglow: Why would this administration (which wants to privatize everything) ignore an already-established and accredited, nationally networked suicide prevention hotline and set up their own version of it? There are no grants for Hopeline or 1-800-Suicide listed on SAMHSA for 04 or 05 that i could see.

Which would not be strange since it seems that the Hopeline no longer has funding. A large part of the time when working crisis centers, you only get one chance, and you don't want that chance wasted on information which can no longer be of use.

And if you search the AAS site, there are no results for either Hopeline nor 1-800-Suicide.

This is beside the point as your first post here stated "any and all" information, which is simply not the case.

Captain, none of those results at SAMHSA are for suicide prevention.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:01 AM on July 29, 2006


I used to have terrible, near heart-exploding nightmares about nothing in particular, except inevitable, uncanny nowness and horror. Like, I knew I was in bed and asleep, just that everything was much too obvious and decidedly not good. Waking up did not help. I'd lay on the floor and shake for two hours afterward.

It's like tachycardia till your heart almost flatlines. You want to not be in your body. It's not something you care to experience again in a thrill-seeking way. Words really cannot convey it. When you wake up you can't reason yourself out of the sheer nasty physiology of it. You just have to go through it, lie there and shake and be terrified.

A suicide hotline is good for these things. A friend is better. A warm body beside you is best, even preventative! Shame we're all so alienated from each other, and that we care so much to know the gender of the body beside you before we'll offer an encouraging word!

Perhaps we could induce this kind of Biblical fear-and-trembling in everyone (I think the word was"awe" and it used to really mean something) making sure they suffer it alone. Then, perhaps, we'd all be less judgmental of one another. Or you'd kill yourself. Either way, it's not something you can clever your way out of, and it will happen to you! I guarantee it!
posted by eegphalanges at 9:30 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


eegphalanges writes "it will happen to you! I guarantee it!"

Er, on what basis are you guaranteeing that all MeFi readers will have near heart-exploding nightmares about nothing that leave them shaking for two hours afterwards? Because I wouldn't be surprised if it happened to a few folks, but everyone? Guaranteed??
posted by Bugbread at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2006



A suicide hotline is good for these things. A friend is better. A warm body beside you is best, even preventative!


exactly. This service was all set up, accredited, and had a good reputation and solid track record. Tell me one new govt. thing that can say the same.
posted by amberglow at 11:34 AM on July 29, 2006


George Bush doesn't care about suicidal people.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:48 AM on July 29, 2006


Yeah, well, let me modify--this is true most everyone who doesn't have the luxury of planning an easy death. My nightmare is not to illustrate the specifics of your death, just the specifics of your heart when it finally kills you. You will die when your hear stops beating long enough. I take it it's a scary thing to live through, and from my near example of tachycardia without fibrillation--pretty common way to go, if not universal. I don't think mosts' hearts just taper off in a slow fade into the sunset, with a peaceful smile on their faces. From my understanding talking to hospice workers and others who've watched people die, the heart goes like the dickens, then ticks off arrhythmically, then stops altogher. This is without blunt force trauma, bullets, bombs, etcetera.

Why the notion that your heart rate can produce extreme feelings rather than your feelings commanding your heart rate is so whangdamn odd, I dunno. Why anyone would want to be drugged unconscious for the big event, I don't understand. So, yeah, I'm wrong, you can plan your death to be as painless and uneventful as you like, with your heart making a steady fading pity-pat, if that's what you desire. You don't have to experience anything, you can just think about it, or read it in a book.

But won't you be surprised if things should turn otherwise. You're much more likely to be scared shitless and dismayed, even if you've the luxury of a deathbed and time to think about it. Just saying.

And preventing suicide is good thing.
posted by eegphalanges at 12:03 PM on July 29, 2006


Apparently not financially according to the stakeholders' concerns over the last few years brought up by dhartung, and its loss of or non-competition for a new round of grant money.

amberglow: exactly. This service...had a...solid track record.

In fact a new "service" doesn't appear to have been set up, if this tangled web of grant money, grant money disbursing agencies and non-profits is what it appears to be.

All the funding and calls still go through to all the same, reputable, accredited, successful local organizations they went to before. Necessitated, of course, by the previous organizations failure to compete or win a new grant, keep its financial matters in order and diversify its funding strategy.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:20 PM on July 29, 2006


I'm not kidding when I said my local suicide hotline was calling me. Mental health is a tight little racket. There are so many people who are willing to help you, just sign on the line. I would rather be exorcised by a Catholic priests and a dozen animist witch-doctors, thank you. At least there's some absolution there when the shaman pulls the fishhooks out of your belly. I know I felt better, and they never once asked for my social security number!
posted by eegphalanges at 12:45 PM on July 29, 2006


This is such a crap post in several different respects. Not only is it basically an agenda-driven, endorsement/call-to-action one-link post to a partisan rant/call-to-action on a partisan blog, it's also looks to be suspiciously full of shit.

Thee-quarters of all mefites could make a post like this every day based upon their own partisan special interests and pointing to one of the handful of political blogs they read. For example, each homophobe, assuming no doubles, could post a flimsy GYOBFW-worthy anti gay-marriage single-link post every damn day. So could the those opposing government action on (or disputations of) climate change; stem-cell research; sex education in schools; whatever. The front page would be forty screens of crap every day of the year, forever.

Furthermore, were this type of thing truly acceptable, even if we managed to get most mefites to agree to an ideological test that allows what are otherwise schematically identical posts to be differentiated as acceptable/unacceptably, the shear volume of GYOBFW advocacy posts to mefi would so devalue each such post by way of dilution in combination with the devaluation of MetaFilter in general that eventually the whole process would be self-destructive because most such individual posts wouldn't be worth the effort. It's a classic tragedy-of-the-commons scenario and those who flagrantly flout social norms and exploit the majority-conformal behavior are nothing more than selfish jerks who typically rationalize their personal sense of exceptionalism.

In other words, GYOBFW.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:34 PM on July 29, 2006


*stares coldly at Ethereal Bligh*

People like you are the reason I stopped posting FPPs.

*looks away*
posted by ZachsMind at 4:39 PM on July 29, 2006


Looking over your posts, I can see why. A good number of them are GYOBFW posts. Others are pretty good. Too bad you didn't just figure out the difference and keep posting the kind that are good.

Do you really think that something like this (a mock up):
"The US has given up its sovereignity to the United Nations. What's next?" Little known EPA regulation now allows US executives to be extradicted and tried for "ecological crimes" in a European courtroom. Stop The UN website here.
...would be an acceptable post? (First link to a right-wing blog, second link to an a right-wing activist website.) Is this what you want to see on the front page of MetaFilter every day? If the answer is "no", then is it fair to think so when the only difference is the politcs of the post?

I'm sorry, but a post that is a link to a blog rant and another link to an activist site is not a MetaFilter post, it's hijacking MetaFilter for the most mundane and boring partisan advocacy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:31 AM on July 30, 2006


... The title rewrite was one of several requested changes. Another was to add a session on faith-based suicide prevention, said Weber, who said he believes the brouhaha is all a misunderstanding.

SAMHSA prefers the term "sexual orientation" simply because it is more "inclusive," he said. And besides, he added, it was only a suggestion.

Asked how strong a suggestion, Weber replied: "Well, they do need to consider their funding source." ...

posted by amberglow at 4:23 AM on July 30, 2006


amberglow, maybe you should make an argument, rather than just quoting whatever you can find with two or more of your keywords.

You've pretty much ignored any questions brought up by your post, brought in irrelevant links with no explanation, and clearly don't care whether your perception is wrong or not.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:49 AM on July 30, 2006


The only gay agenda seems to be this post...
posted by Dreamghost at 6:59 AM on July 30, 2006


Captain, it was interesting and on the web--and horrible. I know people who are alive today because of 1-800-SUICIDE, yet no one who is so because of this other hotline i had never heard about. Statements made here (without links to back them up, like about AAS and other things) are not evident when searching the sites of the orgs mentioned in those statements. SAMHSA has been in the news for a few years now for removing the relevant information from their site (and from conferences and for making threats like the one above). The blog i posted from comes from a respected person who's usually right (and has been posted elsewhere). I haven't ignored any questions--i've tried to see if statements made here are actually true. (like this one by you--All the funding and calls still go through to all the same, reputable, accredited, successful local organizations they went to before. Please show us that that is so, because there is no proof that i can find on any site that actually disperses the money or runs the agencies.)

That's it. The number people know of may disappear, while this number people don't know of seems to be being run from within the govt. agency itself--an agency more concerned with politics than stopping suicides--like so many these days. If people think that's ok, or that i'm wrong for caring, there's no possible response to that.
posted by amberglow at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2006


not to throw another link at you, but it's stuff like this that needs to be seen: ... Eligibility is being limited because Congress authorized funding for only one National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program; therefore, the program supplement must be awarded to the grantee that manages Lifeline, specifically to Link2Solutions. It would be inefficient and wasteful to fund a second national suicide prevention hotline network, which would need to develop a parallel and duplicative crisis center network and telephonic infrastructure. Also, establishing and publicizing a second toll-free telephone number would be confusing to callers. ...

It's not AAS, but this Link2Solutions that's running the new hotline. And the govt has exactly done what they say here is inefficient and wasteful--they've built (or are building) a second national network.

posted by amberglow at 12:49 PM on July 30, 2006


"If people think that's ok, or that i'm wrong for caring, there's no possible response to that."

I certainly do not think either of those things. That's not the issue. It's never been the issue. This post of yours and the countless others like it are important, sincere, and worthy in themselves. But then so are a great many other things which don't belong on MetaFilter's front page.

My hard news and politics consumption and consumption of the discussion and opinion about such things has declined in recent months, but it's still very large—larger even than most mefites, probably you, given that they're my primary interests, I don't work, and I spend most of each and every day on the web. I am politically active and I care a great deal about many of these issues and in fact share many of the same positions as you.

And I point this out because if I thought it was right and appropriate to do so, I'd post stuff like yours to MeFi each and every day. As a matter of fact, although I (almost) never do post such things, it's rare for even a few days to go by when I don't read some story or blog and think, "I'd like to post this to MeFi" before I realize what I'm thinking. It occurs to me because so many posts to MeFi are of this character. It occurs to me because I care about these things. It occurs to me because I want to convince people to share my opinions on these things.

But I don't do it because as time has gone by, I've become more and more aware that a) specifically because I read this stuff all day it's apparent that most of the rest of the web is filled with this content, and the more MeFi is like the rest of the web, the less interesting it is to me or anyone else; b) this kind of content wasn't what brought me to MeFi in the first place, nor does it sustain my interest now; and most importantly c) there's a large amount of documentation that the person who actually gets to decide what is appropriate and inappropriate content for MeFi believes that it's just not That Sort of Place.

Anyway, my decision to complain in this thread was considered at length and resulted from a combination of factors. First, that it didn't warrant a specific MeTa post. Second, that the thread discussion had already died down and it is a weekend. And, importantly, third, that even on its own merits outside the context of MeFi the argument of the link is weak and so is your defense of it. It's a thoroughly bad post.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:50 PM on July 30, 2006


oop--messed up the ital.
posted by amberglow at 12:51 PM on July 30, 2006


Let me preface everything by saying that I don't think a national hotline, or even 1-800-SUICIDE, are bad or should be gotten rid of. Nor is the gay component of your concern a bad thing. In fact, I quite agree with it.

My problem from the outset has been that as explained this:
a) is a terribly confusing web of money and administration
b) story as originally described does not appear to be the truth, though it may hold grains of truth and may not indicate anyone is lying
c) brings the homosexual persecution idea completely out of left field for what appears to be most readers
d) is alarmism where the immediate impetus for alarm is quite obvious, though the first causes leading up to it are not

Another part of the problem has been your quotation without comment throughout much of the thread. You post up an exceprt and a link, with no explanation and no context and behave as if it's all so obvious. Clearly it is not.

All of my statements were made in reference to your own links or others provided.

amberglow: Statements made here (without links to back them up, like about AAS and other things) are not evident when searching the sites of the orgs mentioned in those statements.

I am unfamiliar with the blog you posted and from what I read thus far I don't trust its information.

The blog i posted from comes from a respected person who's usually right (and has been posted elsewhere).

All the organizations involved in the new national hotline were listed in links you provided. The dispersal method is evident in the links you provided.

All the funding and calls still go through to all the same, reputable, accredited, successful local organizations they went to before. Please show us that that is so, because there is no proof that i can find on any site that actually disperses the money or runs the agencies.

According to your follow up link after the quote this post was taken from, no it doesn't. From the other links posted here, there are myriad organizations (like MHA in New York) which are part of running this.

...seems to be being run from within the govt. agency itself...

I don't think you're wrong for caring. I think your caring is based on incorrect or fraudulent information and interpretation.

If people think...i'm wrong for caring, there's no possible response to that.

I still can't tell what the truth is about the funding. monju's explanation, as I've said, seems to make the most sense. dhartung's additional information about the ability of 1-800-SUICIDE to keep its financial house in order brings up serious concerns. There's still no explanation of whether they applied for and lost a renewal of the grant or not. If they didn't or lost out, this happens to a multitude of organizations every year.

Following all of your purely informational links paints a picture of a competent organization picking up the slack where 1-800-SUICIDE, for whatever reason, was unable to do so. People calling into the new line will be reaching people like those at MHA...not James Dobson. While I see the cause for alarm for those who care about 1-800-SUICIDE, I don't see the cause for alarm relating to not having a good service around anymore.
posted by Captaintripps at 3:30 PM on July 30, 2006


I still can't tell either, Captain, about the funding or organizational structure or why 1-800-SUICIDE, which is an already established network (larger than the current one too), and that's a big problem. I went looking for more information--i wish some of you who had stated things as fact did so too first.

c) brings the homosexual persecution idea completely out of left field for what appears to be most readers
If you had read the first link in the post, you would have found 6+ paragraphs--with links--about the GLBT angle. It's only out of left field for those who didn't read the original post or the links it itself contained. I'm sorry you didn't do so.
posted by amberglow at 5:17 PM on July 30, 2006


...why 1-800-SUICIDE, which...., is not part of it, and...

Each link i have found presents more and sometimes conflicting information on who is running this, funding this, and/or administering it. Reading them shows that statements made here by you and others --and myself--are not so, which can only help us all understand the situation, instead of continuing to make unsupporting statements. AAS is not running it, and the Link2Solutions org does not state that it's fully certified, which 1-800-SUICIDE was, according to their site (that's also where the size of their network and other info is located). ...
posted by amberglow at 5:24 PM on July 30, 2006


amberglow: I read the first link three times on my first visit to this topic. I read each of the five links contained in that post (not counting the last set all linking to the site to save 1-800-SUICIDE).

The first is a link is to the save 1-800-SUICIDE site.

The second link is to a Washington Post article, in which an anonymous source (therefore with nothing to hide) directly contradicts the assertion that there is a department-wide campaign against the LGBT community. The third and fourth links related directly to this incident and offer no new information.

The fifth link is to another post by the author of the web log, on his assertion of the entrenchment of the religion in agencies of the Administration. Absolutely none of that supports the assertion that the funding for 1-800-SUICIDE was a politically motivated decision against gays. That's where it comes out of left field.

Relating to your belief that I stated something as fact initially, I did not. I asked several questions. I followed up with a post stating more questions and examining one of the links you provided and what it seemed to say about the situation. My third post was a refutation of your initial statement that any and all information about LGBT issues had been removed from SAMSHA's web site. My fourth post expressed agreement with dhartung's quite cogent answer to one of your questions and answered logically, though speculatively, questions you had brought up. Only in my fifth post did I begin to formulate any idea of what is going on based upon, as I said, links you had provided.

I cannot parse the below statement at all. Could you please clarify?

...why 1-800-SUICIDE, which...., is not part of it, and...

Each link i have found presents more and sometimes conflicting information on who is running this, funding this, and/or administering it. Reading them shows that statements made here by you and others --and myself--are not so, which can only help us all understand the situation, instead of continuing to make unsupporting statements. AAS is not running it, and the Link2Solutions org does not state that it's fully certified, which 1-800-SUICIDE was, according to their site (that's also where the size of their network and other info is located). ...

posted by Captaintripps at 6:56 PM on July 30, 2006


The person in charge of 1-800-SUICIDE asked me to post the following to clear some stuff up:
As the founder of 1-800-SUICIDE I would like to respond to the posts that have appeared on this site.

First off, the issue of the GLBT was not as a result our efforts. This was done by a few bloggers who made the connection because of the SAMHSA efforts to remove GLBT references on a recent conference. We totally support Ron Bloodworth and the effort he and the GLBT community made to save the right to include GLBT language into the title of a workshop about GLBT issues. We know as well that the GLBT community is at a much higher risk for suicide than many other communities and support all efforts to prevent suicide in this underserved community. While this issue is very important, the issue we hope this community will focus on is the issue of the immediate risk of the feds taking over 1-800-SUICIDE and having access to the callers’ personal data.

To the issue about the competing suicide hotline known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK there’s much to say. On June 28th 2000, Congress passed legislation that funded 1-800-SUICIDE. At no time did Congress authorize SAMHSA to create much less duplicate an existing hotline network (at the time when the legislation was passed 1-800-SUCIDE had already existed and was funded by the money that I personally invested into it from the sale of my home and the insurance benefits I received from Kristin’s death). That is one of our core issues. 1-800-SUICIDE has been around for 8 years. Federal funding has existed for three out of six years before the SAMHSA created the new hotline network. To find ourselves in competition with a federally funded hotline - that is using funds we labored to get appropriated - is frustrating to say the least. No one is winning. Most of all, the crisis centers for whom this money was appropriated for have yet to receive any funds for the training of crisis line workers.

On March 15th 2004 I had to lay off the entire staff of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center due to interference from the prime on our grant, AAS. The NMHA (National Mental Health Association) came to our rescue and provided support staff to run the program. They additionally agreed to partner with us to apply for the current grant. Also, our partners on the grant were 9-1-1, United Way, COA and many other nationally and internationally recognizable and credible organizations. NMHA is a 100+ year old mental health advocacy organization that has been the prime on many federal grants. In other words, the applicant was more than credible and safe for the program to be operated by. We had the experience, the most recognizable number (that people dial even without knowing it really exists), the latest, most effective technology (which allowed us to react to minor and major changes (Katrina) in the country within minutes, and a staff of very efficient people who have been working in mental health for decades. To award the new grant to a novice in the suicide prevention field while the NMHA application had all the existing partners in our network lined up made little sense.

Now here comes a disturbing fact.

One month before the bidding on the grant for the "recompete of the 1-800-SUICIDE grant" closed, the now former Deputy Director of SAMSHA Jim Stone announced to a group of mental health advocates in June of 2004 that the grant was to be awarded to a "new agency". I was physically there when he said it. My colleagues turned and looked at me in big surprise. This was a major slip on his part. When I came up to him to find out more on this new entity (he didn’t know me at the time), a second before he opened his mouth to talk on the issue, the head of the conference raced up to us and introduced me to Jim Stone – “Reese Butler, founder of 1-800-SUICIDE”. Jim mumbled his way out of the conversation.

What I’m trying to say is we believe that the new grant was “awarded” long before the official results came out to the public. A search for Jim Stone and his very short history with SAMHSA resulted in several injunctions regarding contracts that were awarded by him. The competition was not fair. In addition to the predetermined statement by Stone we also read in the winning grant how they cited a review of our network and its shortcomings conducted by the SAMHSA contractor. The interesting thing is that the same report was denied to us, the very agency the two-year report was about . Finally we received a copy yet it was redacted to the point it was useless. Then after our appeals were completed they issued us a copy of the original report which was shared with the winning applicant back in 2004!

After the feds awarded the grant to MHA of NYC they asked us for a donation of our number 1-800-SUICIDE as it was now obvious that we are the losers. Never at anytime did the feds ever invite us into the discussion about transition or allow us to meet with them to work out plans to make sure that nothing from the first grant was lost or valuable components of the first grant be transferred to the new awardees. We created many software programs and a few databases all crisis centers need and to this day rely on. None were used by the new grantee as they have started from scratch to create new programs duplicating and replacing our programs.
In addition it has been stated that the grant was fairly competed and we lost. They also state that they had to compete the grant by law. This is not true. Proof is the post on the SAMHSA site where they say the applicant is being limited because Congress authorized funding for only one National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program; therefore, the program supplement must be awarded to the grantee that manages Lifeline, specifically to Link2Solutions. It would be inefficient and wasteful to fund a second national suicide prevention hotline network, which would need to develop a parallel and duplicative crisis center network and telephonic infrastructure. Also, establishing and publicizing a second toll-free telephone number would be confusing to callers.

No where in the Congressional language is the name National Suicide Prevention Lifeline mentioned (as it did not exist in 2000) yet in the Congressional testimony 1-800-SUICIDE and or the Hopeline are mentioned no less than 11 times. To read the original testimony read the Congressional Record June 28th 2000 or got to www.save1800suicide.org/record.html


As far as the 266k that is owed to our organization I have posted a compete list of the claims for all to see. The claim includes reimbursement for a conference held for crisis centers, salaries that were approved in the first year at 100% and administrative services that NMHA performed when we had to lay off our staff due to the arbitrary cuts to our payroll resulting in poor morale. We have nothing to hide and ask for our day in court. If this internet campaign does nothing more than to expedite what we have been asking for in terms of a judicial review by impartial reviewers then we will consider it a major success.

There’s an interesting fact about the number 1-800-SUICIDE. Before 1998 if you called the number, you’d reach a sex line. It was owned by a company that had a number of 1-800 lines and every one of them was a sex line. I know of at least one case when a woman called the number and killed herself because she couldn’t reach help.

After Kristin killed herself, I wanted to find a number that would be easy to remember. At first it was 1-888-SUICIDE, but then people still continued calling the 800 number. Whether it was God’s work, a stroke of luck or just my ability to negotiate, I convinced the sex line company to release 1-800-SUICIDE for the greater good.

Why didn’t our Government think of it first? If I hadn’t had that number released, who would be its owner today? Something’s telling me, it still would be a sex line and people would be committing suicide, unable to reach help.

We have developed technology that allowed us to route the calls to the first available crisis center worker. That means when Katrina happened and we found out that we lost several crisis centers in the flooded area, within minutes we had calls going to other crisis centers which immediately offered help. And people in the disaster area were the ones who called 1-800-SUICIDE more often than anywhere else.

If a crisis center director called us and said that his volunteers got sick and they couldn’t answer calls that night or if there were some phone problems, even if it the call happened late at night, I rushed to the office to reroute the calls, because a suicidal person might have called the Hopeline and would get no response.

Government employees work 9 to 5 and will hardly care enough to make necessary changes in the network that can potentially save lives. Government leaders change as do their agendas and priorities but the needs of the people remain the same every day, morning or night.

We started a number of great projects, 23 in total. One is a teen to teen peer line as we learned teenagers were often afraid to even talk to adults. We had just begun a online chat program as many teens would not call hotlines for fear that the phone number 1-800-SUICIDE will show up on their parents’ phone bill. This project was effectively killed with the end of the funding. Three years ago we were developing a hotline for veterans 877-VET2VET who were returning from war zones and were having trouble adjusting back to civilian life, suffering from PTSD and considering suicide. This project was killed as well although there’s an urgent need for it today.

I urge all of you to write your Congressional representatives and make the SAMHSA adhere to the original will of Congress led by the late Senator Paul Wellstone.
posted by mathowie at 9:13 PM on July 30, 2006


What I was getting at, which got drowned out by people's problems concerning "identity politics," pertains more to "privacy concerns" -- i.e., as I quoted, a "government run system where they [the government] would have direct access to confidential data on individuals in crisis." What kinds of confidential data? Whatever one might might blab to a "helpful ear" about, oh, say, one's drug problem, sexual kinks or financial finagling, problems that sometimes drive people to consider suicide? And what might some agency under Homeland Security umbrella (which seems lately to include all kinds of bureaus with all kinds of interests) do with that information? Imagine a situation where the FBI lucks into a way to get its hooks into you to set up your brother the political dissident -- "If you don't help us arrest your islamotrotskyite brother the antiwar guy we'll tell your wife and mother of your three kids about your hopeless crush on her 20 year old niece. And we'll tell your boss about the $300 you embezzled to buy snow tires, not to mention the rumors we'll spread about you being the kind of weakling that calls 1-800-SUICIDE in the first place."
posted by davy at 10:24 PM on July 30, 2006


Oh, as far as suicide hotlines go, I support 'em. Cold-calling strangers from the phone book ain't much of an alternative. ("Mr. Alan Dubetsky? I'm wondering if you have a few minutes to talk to a very depressed stranger.")
posted by davy at 10:27 PM on July 30, 2006


Thanks for posting that, Matt.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:34 AM on July 31, 2006


thanks, Matt.
posted by amberglow at 7:09 AM on July 31, 2006


Say hello to 1-900-SUICIDE.
posted by klangklangston at 9:20 AM on July 31, 2006


While I wouldn't say that now the funding situation is clear, it has been clarified somewhat and I think I can figure the rest out on my own. I still don't understand the privacy concerns, nor the concerns about the government taking over (as that still doesn't sound like what's going on).
posted by Captaintripps at 8:43 AM on August 1, 2006


Captain, the government ignored the existing, successful, nationwide accredited network, and is building their own--without open grants or open process at all. And this administration's record on privacy, spying, data--and providing accurate, unbiased GLBT information--is criminal.
posted by amberglow at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2006


amberglow: the LGBT/data thing is still way out of left field.
posted by Captaintripps at 5:14 PM on August 3, 2006


not to those of us who have watched this administration, and who are LGBT--not at all.
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on August 3, 2006


Not to those who would imagine malice and conspiracy at every opportunity— not at all.
posted by klangklangston at 6:41 AM on August 4, 2006


Not to those who would imagine malice and conspiracy at every opportunity— not at all.

Bull
Bull
Bull ...
(i could go on all day)
posted by amberglow at 9:33 AM on August 4, 2006


it's been going on for years--NYT, 03: ... advised by an N.I.H. project officer that the abstract of a grant application he was submitting 'should be 'cleansed' and should not contain any contentious wording like 'gay' or 'homosexual' or 'transgender.' '

The researcher said the project officer told him that grants that included those words were 'being screened out and targeted for more intense scrutiny.' ...

posted by amberglow at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2006


According to this crisis worker:

The guy who runs Hopeline misallocated his funds so terribly that he lost his grant and then he refused to give a report about what happened with his business. Giving reports on how your business is beinjg run and how funds are being used is standard practice in non-profit land when one expects to receive a grant from that agency. The agency giving the grant likes to make sure the funds are being used correctly. However, words have now gotten twisted to the point where the hopeline is claiming that instead of wanting to know things like call volume and allocation of funds, the government want private information on callers. Hopeline could not hand over this information even if he wanted to. They do not have access to it.



I did know for a few months that he had been running the agency badly and that he was in debt. I also knew that Talkline asked if they could take it over and rescue it from the pit it was falling into ( we answer calls from the National Talkline as well as the Hopeline at our agency) because it wanted some form of national line to keep running at all times. Talkline is another national crisis line that rolls it's calls over to the caller's local crisis line. Mr. Hopeline refused to let his agency change hands.

What I did not know was that the government refused to give him money until he handed over financial records showing how the money was spent. I suppose that since a sizable sum of it was not spent in the required manner previously proposed, he decided to refuse.

The Hopeline lost their funding and the money the government would have given to Hopeline is now going to the 1-800-Talkline so that there will be some kind of national line taking calls even after the Hopeline closes.

Apparently this was all very upsetting for Hopeline Man and so he concocted a great paranoid story that fit into many of our current fears very well. He decided to tell people that the government wanted him to turn over his records on callers and that if he did not they were going to set up a national crisis agency run by the government in order to spy on people. His story does not make sense because in order to get notes for Talkine calls, the government would have to go to every partcipating AAS certified crisis lines across the country and battle to get access to their records.

The Hopeline story went out on the radio, various news places, and what-not until it reached my staff and volunteers and we had our own little freak out.

Apparently our executive director knows Mr Hopeline and so much of this is not second hand info for her.

I'm glad to know that the massively horrible thing I heard was true is not and quite pissed that a man such as Mr. Hopeline is manipulating the public into giving him thousands of dollars to keep his line running all because he now owns some of the most magnificent and pricey "stuff" known to man. He's already known for burning a lot of bridges in the past and now he's just burned the rest of them.

If you call the new "government" line - you will be calling the existing 1-800 Talkline. You will not get some agent. You will be directed to your closest available crisis volunteer. You will get me, one of my trainees, or something similar in another city. The Talkline has no more access to information we keep than the offices for Hopeline do.


I'm just mad at myself now for getting sucked into the conspiracy scandle that Mr. Hopeline created.
However, this kind of scam is impossible to keep up. I suspect it will crash sooner rather than later.

posted by Captaintripps at 8:07 AM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


« Older IRAQ RADIO: Turkish soldiers Enter Northern Iraq...  |  Owen Wilson... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments